Over 1,500 professional and aspiring architects and designers, from around the world, have submitted designs to the two ongoing competitions offering the artistically minded an opportunity to make a mark on the National Mall.
One competition is officially connected to the National Park Service, and has just selected 15 professional design teams, after three days of consideration by an eight-person jury, to move on to Stage II of the National Mall Design Competition to redesign three areas of the Mall: Union Square at the foot of the Capitol, Constitution Gardens near the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument Grounds at Sylvan Theater.
For each of the three redesign areas, six design teams were selected, with a few teams selected as finalists in two areas: the Diller Scofidio Renfro & Hood Design team is a finalist for both Union Square and the Washington Monument Grounds portion; the Rogers Marvel Architects & Peter Walker and Partners team is a finalist for both Union Square and Constitution Gardens; and the OLIN & Weiss/Manfredi team is a finalist for both the Washington Monument Grounds portion and Constitution Gardens.
Second stage designs are due December 1st, and those who will be moving on to the final round will be announced on December 15th. The design competition was officially launched in early September and brought in over 1,200 participants, said spokeswoman Lauren Condoluci.
The Trust for the National Mall, with part of its purpose being to help realize the NPS Mall Plan through its "Campaign to Restore the National Mall," is responsible for the corporate-sponsored design competition, as The Trust is the "official non-profit partner of the National Park Service," created in November of 2007 by Chip Akridge, founder of the eponymous commercial real estate company Akridge.
Meanwhile, another National Mall design competition was launched prior to the NPS competition, in the summer of 2010: the National Ideas Competition for the redesign of the Washington Monument Grounds, sponsored in part by George Washington University.
Chair of the National Ideas Competition steering committee, James Clark, principal at MTFA Architecture, said that the winning participants will benefit from exposure, as they will have risen to the top of over 500 competition participants.
"We realize none of the schemes will ever get built," said Clark. "But we hope they have an impact on the potential of the grounds." He also said that the competition's worth is in creative participation on a broad spectrum; participants ranged from individual designers and amateurs aged 12 and up, and professional design firms.
The competition is now in its final phase: the solicitation of the public's vote to determine two winners from the six finalists, including firms from the Netherlands, South Korea, and D.C. local Hunt Laudi Studio. Julian Hunt, co-founder of husband-wife firm Hunt Laudi, said he entered a A Great Inclined Plane (shown at left) to "extend the mall and make it into a sort of viewing platform," inspired in part by the failure of the space to serve the Obama Inauguration crowd well. Hunt also felt the complexity of the design submission would be appreciated by a first-round jury that consisted of renowned, avant-garde architects. Winners of the National Ideas Competition will be presented to the public next spring.
Likewise, the NPS' National Mall Design Competition will put on a public exhibition next April, and winners will be announced in early May. Unlike the creative visions produced through the National Ideas Competition, however, fundraising efforts for the NPS/The Trust for the National Mall undertaking will commence after the winners are announced.
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